Enforcement Actions and Penalties
The County Agricultural Commissioners are the “enforcement arm” of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation and the state Department of Food and Agriculture. They are charged with enforcing state regulations at the local level. Agricultural inspectors are out in the field every day conducting inspections to make sure that local regulations pertaining to pesticide use, direct marketing, nursery regulation, and plant quarantine are being followed by the local agricultural industry. When violations of these regulations are found, the Agricultural Commissioner has a number of options for gaining compliance. The Commissioner may suspend, revoke or deny permits, registrations or compliance agreements that allow the person to conduct business in the county. A person’s certification as a private applicator may be also be revoked. Another option is to levy a penalty or fine against the person or company who violated the regulations. People who violate regulations pertaining to pesticide use or direct marketing can be fined up to $5000 for each violation for example. In extreme cases the Agricultural Commissioner may cooperate with the County District Attorney or the State Attorney General in pursuit of civil penalties of up to $25,000. In each case the person charged with the violation is entitled to a hearing to present evidence in their own defense as to why they should not be fined or otherwise penalized. The purpose of any action taken by the local commissioner is always to gain compliance.